Tour de France fantasy guide and tips: How to score and the best riders to select

Tadej Pogacar is one of the favourites for the 2024 Tour de France  (AP)
Tadej Pogacar is one of the favourites for the 2024 Tour de France (AP)

The Tour de France is back with a star-studded peloton set to do battle across three weeks of racing — and avid cycling aficionados and total newbies to the sport can join in the fun by signing up for the official fantasy game of the Tour.

Ever more popular year-on-year, the Tour provides its own platform in partnership with Tissot, awarding points based on riders’ performances in each stage and overall throughout the race.

With such variety from stage to stage across the route, figuring out the best combination in an eight-strong selection can be tricky — here are our top tips for success for prospective directeur sportifs.

The basics

Before the start of Stage 1 in Florence on Saturday 29 June, those wishing to enter the official fantasy game must sign up and select a team of eight riders. Each entrant is allocated a budget of 120 “stars”, with cyclists assigned a value based on their likely output at the Tour. Tadej Pogacar, for example, is the most expensive rider at 25 stars.

The peloton is split into four categories — Leaders, Sprinters, All-rounders and Climbers — with a maximum of three of each type permitted to be selected. Similarly, only three riders can be chosen from a single team. A limited number of changes can be made to your team during the race, so use these wisely.

Points scoring

Points are awarded both based on stage performances and in the overall classifications. Picking stage winners is most valuable, but riders who rank highly in the chase for the yellow, green, white and polka dots jerseys also boost your points tally.

Before each stage, a Stage Winner Bonus can also be designated. This doubles the points of the rider chosen on that particular stage and should be updated based on each day’s parcours.

Top picks

Tadej Pogacar has already won the Giro d’Italia this year (AP)
Tadej Pogacar has already won the Giro d’Italia this year (AP)

There is little surprise that Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates, 25 stars) is the most selected player in the game. Even at a price higher than any other rider, the Slovenian shapes as a prolific points scorer as both a ravenous stage hunter and likely general classification favourite having already torn the Giro d’Italia to pieces this year.

Heading the sprinting field, meanwhile, is Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck, 23 stars). After winning four stages in France last year, the Belgian will arrive full of confidence even with a host of contenders sure to be nipping at his heels. There could be as many as eight sprint stages across the three weeks, though there will be no traditional final-day dash up the Champs-Elysees due to preparations for Paris 2024.

Another man who may be in the mix out of the bunch is Wout van Aert (Visma-Lease a Bike, 19 stars) — no other rider is conceivably competitive on such a wide variety of terrains as the Belgian, and with questions surrounding his team leader, Van Aart might have the freedom to go hunting for both stages and green jersey points.

What about the defending champion?

Jonas Vingegaard is battling back from injury (AP)
Jonas Vingegaard is battling back from injury (AP)

No-one will be writing off Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease a Bike, 22 stars) as the Dane targets a third consecutive yellow jersey, but there are doubts about the defending champion’s form and fitness entering the Tour. Vingegaard has not raced since suffering serious injuries at the Tour of the Basque Country in April. The noises coming out of team camp are more pessimistic than you might expect, and taking a cautious approach with Vingegaard is probably wise for fantasy directeur sportifs until he has shown that he has the legs to mix it with Pogacar.

Other GC candidates

Similar concerns swirl around Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step, 20 stars), who was short of his best at the Criterium du Dauphine after recovering from injury. Vingegaard’s former teammate Primoz Roglic (Bora-hansgrohe, 21 stars) went better at the traditional Tour tune-up, taking overall victory on his return from a lay-off, though lacked the end-of-stage sharpness that tends to characterise the Slovenian’s racing.

Primoz Roglic returns to the Tour in new colours at Bora-hansgrohe (AFP via Getty Images)
Primoz Roglic returns to the Tour in new colours at Bora-hansgrohe (AFP via Getty Images)

At a lower price point, big things will be expected of Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos Grenadiers, 18 stars) as he leads a team also containing Geraint Thomas (18 stars) and Egan Bernal (17 stars). Looking for a value option? Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech, 16 stars) might be your man after an unexpected podium finish at the Dauphine.

The sprinters

It’s an intriguing selection of sprinters at the Tour this year. Beyond Philipsen, perennial contenders like Fabio Jakobsen (dsm-firmenich PostNL, 17 stars) and Sam Bennett (Declathlon AG2R La Mondiale, 16 stars) are viable options, while young guns Olav Kooij (Visma-Lease a Bike, 19 stars) and Arnaud de Lie (Lotto DSTNY, 18 stars) are priced highly with each tipped for an impressive debut.

Mads Pedersen (Lidl Trek, 18 stars) is usually a good option for fantasy players given the Dane’s ability to get through the tougher stuff and survive climbs - like Van Aert, he has the ability to contest plenty of stage finishes in an intriguing route to Nice.

Mark Cavendish will bid for a 35th stage victory (AP)
Mark Cavendish will bid for a 35th stage victory (AP)

And what about Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan, 15 stars)? The Manx Missile will bid farewell to the Tour (again) after postponing his retirement in search of a record-breaking 35th stage win. He may lack the sheer speed of younger, more in-form rivals but nous and a nose for the line count for a lot in heat of a sprint finish. Cavendish has a loaded sprint train to help him out, too.

Value picks

It can be hard to forecast which riders will enjoy a standout Tour, but there are plenty of possible picks that might provide real value at a cheaper cost. It feels like a breakthrough victory is coming for Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious, 11 stars) after a series of near misses, while Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost, 13 stars) is one to watch in the hills. Oscar Onley (dsm-firmenich PostNL, 12 stars) may have a limited role on Tour debut but there is a lot to like about the young Scot, too.

Tiny French climber Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ, 11 stars) should like the steeper slopes in the Alps and Pyrenees if not dedicated to supporting team leader David Gaudu (16 stars). Another home hope might be Bryan Coquard (Cofidis, 12 stars) — the Frenchman will have his work cut out forcing a long-awaited victory at the race given the quality of his sprint rivals, but Coquard seems to have found another gear this season.